PINEY FLATS, Tenn.—Industrial tire maker Super Grip Corp. has a simple but blunt message for its potential customers and competitors: "We're bigger, badder and better than anyone else in the business."
The privately held company, which makes solid, pneumatic and resilient tires, doesn't have a chip on its shoulder, insists Chris Vinson, director of marketing and advertising.
Rather, he maintained, its top priority always has been customer satisfaction, while its competition's primary concern "is keeping their shareholders happy. This means less money is spent on materials and production, creating low quality at a high price."
Super Grip, formed 15 years ago, doesn't have to play that game, he said, because it has one shareholder: President Dexter Christenberry.
"We have the most technically advanced manufacturing facilities, we use the best rubber compound and we are at the forefront of industrial innovations," Mr. Vinson boasted, "not to mention pricing that blows everyone else out of the water."
That has resulted in substantial growth, he said, including a recent major expansion to one of the firm's four manufacturing sites in China that grew to about 1.2 million square feet from approximately 200,000 square feet. "It takes about an hour and a half to get from one side of the plant to the other," he noted.
Its other Chinese factories and one in India are in the 200,000- to 500,000-sq.-ft. range.
Super Grip also has added forklift tires to complement its skid-steer and trencher line as part of its growth plan, Mr. Vinson said. It expects to introduce a surge of new products in late September, including technology that produces a laminated industrial tire built from the sidewalls of recycled bias-plies.
Though Super Grip's headquarters are in Piney Flats near Bristol, Tenn., the firm does its manufacturing in China and India—not only for the obvious cost advantage but because of the composition of its tires.
"There are two ingredients used in our tire compound that, according to (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations, can't be used in raw form in the U.S.," Mr. Vinson explained. "These two key ingredients are essential in creating our `mining tire compound,' which separates us from anyone else in the industrial tire business."
While he didn't give the compound's makeup, he said it's composed of the best natural and synthetic materials available. "The EPA denies use of the two ingredients as a precautionary measure more than anything else," he said. "Workers are not exposed to the chemicals at our China plants. That's all automated."
He touted Super Grip as "the best-kept secret in the industrial tire industry, but the fastest-growing company in the business."
The firm has enjoyed steady success since its founding, but "we really kicked it into high gear about five years ago and have had solid growth since then," he said. "And about eight months ago we got really aggressive" when the company implemented a new strategy and marketing plan.
Super Grip previously participated in one trade show a year, but last year it went to five, he said. The firm also began producing more brochures, which it makes available at trade conferences, increased its marketing and advertising program 150 percent over the previous year and added sales personnel.
Super Grip's new product offerings, now on the market or arriving in the next few months, include a high-flotation tire for skid-steer loaders; a laminated, bias-ply-based skid-steer tire; and a wide-profile Shockmaster skid-steer tire, which adds another inch to its width.
The high-flotation skid-steer tire offers an aggressive tread design that's wider and thicker than those from competitors, Mr. Vinson said.
Like all of the company's tires, the Shockmaster uses Super Grip's mining tire compound and construction—from the curing process to the mold—as its foundation. The solid tire, which has been on the market for a couple of years, has molded holes in the sidewall.
"When you're working in an environment that needs a solid tire that rides like a pneumatic tire, this is the tire," he said. "Our holes cone through the tire, starting out big and cone shape down to the center, which gives you the stability needed and the better ride."
But perhaps its biggest new development will be the addition of the laminated tire to its skid-steer/trencher line.
The company discovered that the bias-ply tire, which was used in North America extensively before the steel-belted radial virtually made it obsolete, was commonplace in India. "That has resulted in stacks upon stacks of bias-ply tires being burned in the country, ruining the environment," Mr. Vinson said. "So we looked at the hundreds of thousands of used truck tires and thought we could recycle them and come out with a laminated tire."
To do so, Super Grip officials met with O.G. Barnes, who invented the technology for the industrial tire made from the sidewalls of used bias-plies in the early 1950s, and asked him to design the machines needed for the laminated tire. Mr. Barnes agreed, and along with his son, Ray—who heads up the laminated operation—came on board to rebuild the technology.
"The four biggest manufacturers of skid-steer machines (used in a variety of areas, including foundries and scrap metal yards) are now buying these tires from us," Mr. Vinson said. "They'll be out at the end of September and blow a hole in the market."
While re-creating the bias-ply industrial tire has been a big development at the company, its mining tire is the one "that gave Super Grip its claim to fame," he said. "In the underground mining tire industry across the world, Super Grip owns 87 percent of the market," he claimed. That tire was introduced about 15 years ago.
It's the firm's biggest seller globally. But two other tires—skid-steer/trencher and forklift—are gaining ground in North America, where they're sold exclusively.